NASA has established the Flexible Image Transport System Support Office to assist FITS users and work with the astronomical community on the development and documentation of FITS. The FITS Support Office is a service of the Astrophysics Data Facility at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
The principal purposes of the FITS Support Office are to assist NASA projects in developing FITS data sets, to provide FITS information to the astronomical community and the public, and to take an active role in the evolution of FITS. Toward these ends, it has developed an on-line library of information, documents, and software, available either through the World Wide Web or through anonymous ftp. Documents developed by the FITS Support Office are available in printed form as well. The FITS Support Office also will answer questions about specific issues and problems not covered in the on-line material. For NASA projects, the FITS office also reviews whether proposed designs for FITS data sets and software conform to the FITS rules and recommended practices; designs from other organizations may be reviewed if they appear to be of wide community interest. From the kinds of inquiries received, the FITS office can develop a sense of the common questions about the existing standard formats, the problems with them, and what data structures, if any, these formats do not handle well. This experience enables the FITS office to provide recommendations on directions for FITS development to the IAU FITS Working Group and the regional FITS committees, and to work with developers of potential new extensions and conventions.
The FITS Support Office is coordinated by Dr. Barry M. Schlesinger, a member of the IAUFWG, whose research background is in the areas of stellar structure and evolution and variations in solar radiation. The FITS office can be reached by telephone at +1-301-286-2899.